I’ve often thought about making a Tarot of Social Change. From my work with movements for peace and justice and my own fascination with the history of change making, I’ve gotten a view into the mechanics, personalities, and deeper forces that make change move and shift the societies in which it takes hold.
And I’m inspired to start musing about such a deck today by change that is in the making this very moment in Egypt where a people’s movement that is calling for democratic reform and working its best to hold peaceful protests. These people are changing the country and the region with reverberations for the whole world. I think of the people filling Tahrir Square and believe it can be a potent image for the 10 of Air / Swords.
Air is the element that carriers sound and implies communication. Those protesting for change are sending their message loudly and clearly to the world. They keep repeating that they want their lives and the lives of their children to improve, they want democratic reform, and they aim is to be peaceful in their protesting. These are simple and very powerful ideas. Air is the suit of the power of the mind and of ideas to take hold of us.
10 is a number of transitions. A cycle has been completed and something achieved, and now it is time for a new cycle to begin. The exact fulfillment of the protestors’ goals is unclear at this moment, but their actions so far have changed their society. 10 is made up of two numbers 1 and 0. 1 obviously implies these new beginnings. 0 is a number of mystery and in the Tarot’s Major Arcana the number of the Fool who dares to leap into new territory. An interpretation of the Fool and thus the 0 that I like is that you must take action that may look foolish in the eyes of the world, but is essential to the development of our soul.
The suit of Swords in many decks is rather fearsome. In the Rider Waite Smith (RWS), the man has been attacked and could possibly be dead. I am thinking here of the violence that erupted this week lead by the pro-Mubarak forces. This is the challenge of deep transitions. Something has to be given up. In people’s protests all over the world, we see people risking their comfort, their safety, their very lives for the ideals of peace, justice, and democracy. The sun that you can see rising in the RWS reminds us that this kind of bravery will be rewarded in some way. All over the world, people are benefiting from their ancestors having stood up for deep ideals and striving for a better life. This is the sun that shines on us today. Let us be grateful to all who have made this struggle and all those who are making that struggle today. They call us to our highest visions.
[Note: Image is from Slate and accompanied an article by Sarah Topol who is doing interesting reporting from Egypt. See her article entitled “We Are Making Our Future.”]